Some motorcycles become etched into the memory – here are five that helped shape the course of Harley-Davidson history

Past icons

Harley-Davidson’s all-electric LiveWire motorcycle will always carry the honour of being the first of its kind, with a place in the pantheon of motorcycles that have made their mark on H-D history

Here are five other models that earned spots on that list...


1909 Model 5-D

Although only 27 were built, the Model 5-D carries the distinction of being H-D’s first advertised V-twin-powered motorcycle, and it established the near-sacred form of the 45-degree air-cooled V-twin engine. That’s the stuff of legend.

1936 EL

Offering “superbike” styling and performance when it debuted during the depths of the Great Depression, the legendary Knucklehead brought overhead valve cylinder heads into mass production, setting a standard for V-twin performance that carries on today in the Milwaukee-Eight® engine. The timeless design of the EL model’s fat bob tanks and fenders, controls, trim and graphics still look contemporary in the 21st century.

1977 Low Rider®

The Super Glide® bike of 1971 was the first factory model to combine the Big Twin chassis with a narrow Sportster® front end that created the classic profile of a ‘custom cruiser’. A few years later, those elements gelled into the perfect form of the Low Rider, a motorcycle stripped down to its most essential elements.

1980 FLT Tour Glide

Often overlooked in significance, the 1980 FLT Tour Glide model ushered in several important technological features that remain standard on Touring models today, including Harley-Davidson’s first frame-mounted fairing, an engine and transmission bolted together into a single unit, and rubber isolated motor mounts that reduce harsh vibrations felt by rider and passenger. Its styling was bold for the time, but the shark nose fairing has become as recognizable on the road as the iconic batwing fairing.

1984 Softail®

No model better embodies Willie G. Davidson’s phrase “Form follows function, but both report to emotion” than the Softail chassis, with the clean silhouette of a classic hardtail frame incorporating a highly capable suspension tucked out of sight. The original 1984 Softail model launched a successful platform and helped debut the Evolution® engine, which is credited with saving the company during some of its darkest times.

These motorcycles left their mark on H-D® history, but what’s to come is set to be just as game-changing. To find out what the future holds, click here.